Oban is a remote small town on the west coast of Scotland with a population of over 8,600 people. It acts as a local transport hub with ferry, train and bus connections and during the summer months the population can expand to over 25,000.
The community-led Local Energy Plan for Oban has been developed to help the community to look at its existing and future energy needs in terms of power, heat and transport and work out the priorities for action.
Developing Oban’s Local Energy Plan
The development of Oban’s Local Energy Plan was led by a local steering group. This included representatives from the community council, the area’s two main housing associations, Atlantis Community Leisure (the community-owned leisure centre) and Bid4Oban, with support from several other local organisations and ALIenergy, a local energy agency.
A priority setting event took place on 3 March 2018 to promote the development of the energy plan. Local organisations involved in energy set up stalls to share knowledge and ideas with the members of the community. Themes from this event and a local survey have been explored further through an online forum, face to face meetings and a stall at the annual Charities event in Oban in June 2018.
Implementing the plan
The plan proposed fourteen actions to progress, including some with an immediate focus and other longer-term opportunities that can be developed. Actions were based around four key themes: energy efficiency, energy generation, transport, and smart energy systems.
A two day Driving Smarter Energy event was held in May 2019 to help progress many of the actions identified in the plan. The event brought together businesses, residents, energy systems specialists, and electric vehicle owners and suppliers.
Capacity amongst local community-based organisations has been limited. However, locally based ALIenergy has continued to work with local parties and the community to take forward many of the themes and actions identified in the plan.
The focus of ALIenergy’s work has been aggregating local heating demand. This seeks to address three of the key identified priorities: lower fuel poverty, reduced electricity prices, and increased locally-owned renewable energy generation.
A feasibility study was completed in early 2020. The second phase, which will take place in 2021, will see the control equipment installed in 50 to 100 homes in Oban. This is part of a demonstration project that aims to demonstrate how up to 1MW of thermal storage heating and hot water load can be charged flexibly and dynamically in line with local community need, with the potential to access local renewable generation where this is available.